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Winter Cereal Crops Coming Off Fields in Excellent Condition

31 July 2012
Manitoba Pork Council

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CANADA - A winter wheat breeder with the University of Manitoba says 2012 is shaping up to be a very good year for winter cereal crops, Bruce Cochrane writes.

Winter cereal growers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are harvesting their largest winter wheat crops in years and, thanks to a mild winter followed by ideal early season growing conditions, those crops are coming off the fields in excellent condition.

Dr Anita Brûlé-Babel, a winter wheat breeder and geneticist with the University of Manitoba, notes winter wheat needs to be planted between the end of August and mid-September so the challenge is organizing the time in the fall for seeding but, once planted, these crops offer several advantages.

Dr Anita Brûlé-Babel-University of Manitoba

From a physiological standpoint the winter cereals obviously are winter.

They require a cold period before they can be induced to head and when you get that crop into the ground at an appropriate time in the fall it has time to get established, begin tillering, then it goes dormant over the winter.

The minute temperatures warm up in the spring to allow sufficient growth it's up and running and winter wheat likes those cool wet spring conditions that sometimes it's hard to get a spring cop in because you have to wait till the ground dries.

Winter wheat is already growing so there's a lot of advantages to having winter wheat in the ground in the fall and ready to take advantage of that early spring moisture and the growing temperatures that are available at that time.

The other advantage obviously is that we're in our hot dry period that's typical of most summers, this crop is ready to come off and at that time we can get a crop off in fairly good condition often with very little weathering because we're not in that cool wet period that sometimes happens towards the fall.

The other advantage is obviously you've got a crop that is ready to go to market so there's a lot of advantages that way as well to provide that niche for that type of crop.

Dr Anita Brûlé-Babel says, with appropriate management, nine out of ten years you will successfully over-winter this crop without any significant winter damage.

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